Abstract Electric vehicles and hybrids are expected to become increasingly common in the coming years. The implications of growing adoption depend on its geographical extent. For instance, vehicles that are chargeable from the electrical grid, such as plug-in hybrids, can introduce problems for the distribution network especially if the vehicle adoption is spatially concentrated. In this paper, the adoption of hybrid electric vehicles is analysed in heterogeneous areas. The main purpose is to study the interrelationships between early hybrid electric vehicle adoption and different demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the areas. It is further discussed how the results can be applied to estimate the upcoming plug-in hybrid adoption. As there is a vast amount of information in the various registers of the society, slowly being opened for free usage but not fully utilised so far, it is also of interest to study and demonstrate the usability of public register data in this context. Our analysis suggests that certain characteristics of the areas strongly correlate with the hybrid electric vehicle adoption. The results of this study could be relevant, e.g., for electric distribution network planning, targeting policies to support cleaner vehicle adoption, marketing hybrid vehicles and locating charging stations.